What good are explainer videos? Why go to the expense? Is this just a me-too fad, or is there a genuine return on investment?

For some answers, let’s look at a Nutshell we produced for PlayOn. The Nutshell, combined with a simple yet well-executed Web strategy, had some amazing results that definitely made PlayOn’s investment worth it.

PlayOn came to us with an issue shared by many a tech company: They have a great product that people love once they finally understand what it is.

In response, we crafted a Nutshell that explains how PlayOn solves two problems:

1. People want to watch Internet videos in their living room.
2. Cable TV is too expensive and constraining.

In addition, we worked hard to boil down the PlayOn software and service into the simplest terms possible.

Here’s a snippet from our storyboard for the PlayOn Nutshell:


And the completed video:

Almost immediately the response to the Nutshell was positive. The video appeared on Engadget andCNET and garnered tens of thousands of views right out of the gate. What’s more, cable channel G4 picked up the video and ran it on TV.

Tracy Burman, COO of PlayOn maker MediaMall Technologies, Inc., had this to say about the release:

We have received lots of positive feedback about the Nutshell, and people having an “a-ha” moment after watching it. PlayOn has always been hard for folks to understand, and the video has really clarified it.

An effective Nutshell is only half the story, though, because explanation and understanding should lead to conversion. Here’s a look at the new PlayOn Web site, as designed by Zenwerks, a Seattle-based branding, design, and development firm:



Note how the video stands side by side with the “Get PlayOn” button. What’s more, the video has a clear call to action at the end — “Download it now!”

According to Ms. Burman at PlayOn, this simple arrangement was highly effective:

Our website conversion (visits to trial downloads) literally doubled after we launched the new simplified home page showcasing the Nutshell video.

By any standard, a doubling of conversion is pretty darn good. As we’ve always said, understanding breeds empowerment and the willingness to take action. When people understand something, when they apprehend its value, they want to own it.

That’s why explainer videos are more than a passing fancy. When deployed intelligently, they add immense value.

A good return on investment? Absolutely.